A NSW for Young People: Beyond 2019 - cloudfront.net

 
A NSW for Young People: Beyond 2019 - cloudfront.net
A NSW for
Young People:
Beyond 2019
A NSW for Young People: Beyond 2019 - cloudfront.net
100   A NSW for Young People: Beyond 2019
A NSW for Young People: Beyond 2019 - cloudfront.net
Youth Action is the peak organisation representing young people and youth services
in NSW. Our work helps build the capacity of young people, youth workers and youth
services, and we advocate for positive change on issues affecting these groups.

It is the role of Youth Action to:

1. Respond to social and political agendas relating to young people and the youth
   service sector.
   .............................................................................................................................................................

2. Provide proactive leadership and advocacy to shape the agenda on issues affecting
   young people and youth services.
   .............................................................................................................................................................

3. Collaborate on issues that affect young people and youth workers.
   .............................................................................................................................................................

4. Promote a positive profile in the media and the community of young people and
   youth services.
   .............................................................................................................................................................

5. Build capacity for young people to speak out and take action on issues that
   affect them.
   .............................................................................................................................................................

6. Enhance the capacity of the youth services sector to provide high quality services.
   .............................................................................................................................................................

7. Ensure Youth Action’s organisational development, efficiency, effectiveness and
   good governance.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COUNTRY
Youth Action acknowledges and pays respect to the traditional owners of the land,
past, present and future, across NSW. We are committed to a positive future for
Aboriginal young people and their communities. The Youth Action office is located
upon the land of the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, and we acknowledge their
traditional custodianship.

Youth Action NSW
Suite 401, 52-58 William St
Woolloomooloo NSW, 2011 Australia
p (02) 8354 3700
e info@youthaction.org.au
ABN 17 209 492 539

                                                                                                                                                                   1
A NSW for Young People: Beyond 2019 - cloudfront.net
Contents

1. Introduction                     3

2. A call to action                 4

3. Improve mental health            6
   outcomes for young people

4. Protect young people and care   10
   leavers in NSW to grow up
   healthily, happily and safely

5. Enable all young people to have 15
   a safe and affordable place to
   call home

6. Create an education system      20
   that equips young people for
   their future

7. Achieve excellent and           27
   affordable post school
   pathways

8. Change the story on youth       31
   unemployment

9. Make NSW a safe state for       35
   young people

10. Keep young people out of       39
    prison

11. Resource a joined-up NSW       46
    youth development sector to be
    accessible to all young people

                                        A NSW for Young People: Beyond 2019
A NSW for Young People: Beyond 2019 - cloudfront.net
Introduction

Young people are of critical
importance to the NSW community.
One third of Australia’s young people
live in NSW,1 constituting 1.4 million
young people 12–25 and they make up
18% of the population in the state.2

This report outlines each of the key actions the NSW        Currently, there is no Minister for Young People in
Government needs to take across a range of issues           Cabinet to represent the specific needs of young people
that impact young people.                                   across portfolios. Renewing this portfolio is pivotal to
                                                            changing the story for young people and to ensure that
Youth Action, as the peak body for young people and
                                                            young people are part of central government decision
youth services in NSW, has 30 years of expertise and
                                                            making mechanisms. We need bi-partisan commitment
experience working with young people and the youth
                                                            from all sides of politics for a Minster for Young People
support sector in NSW to ensure young people are
                                                            with a corresponding portfolio.
supported, engaged and valued in our society.
                                                            Youth Action is calling on all parties to commit to a
Youth Action advocates for change for young people
                                                            Minster for Young People with a corresponding portfolio,
in NSW, particularly young people who are excluded
                                                            to commit to the actions in this report, and to make NSW
or experience disadvantage. With young people and
                                                            a better place for young people.
youth support services, we have identified a number
of changes that the NSW government must make
to improve the lives of young people. Our work is
informed by significant primary research, consultation
and engaging with thousands of young people and             Katie Acheson
hundreds of youth services.                                 CEO
Young people are experts in their own experience,
and their views are essential to solving the challenges
for young people and their communities. Their views
                                                            ENDNOTES
should not only be heard, but be influential – taken into
                                                            1 NSW Department of Health, 2017, NSW Youth Health Framework
account on matters than impact their lives at all levels.     2017, accessed via , p. 4
NSW Government.                                             2 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Table 51. Estimated Resident
                                                              Population by Single Year of Age, New South Wales, cat. no.
                                                              3101.0, ABS, Canberra, Mar 2018, accessed via: http://www.
                                                              abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/3101.0Mar%20
                                                              2018?OpenDocument

                                                                                                                              3
A NSW for Young People: Beyond 2019 - cloudfront.net
A call to action

NSW can be a place where all young people are valued,
engaged and supported. Right now, while many young people
in NSW are doing well, there are many more who consistently
do not get the support they need, or who do not have
opportunity to reach their potential.

The experiences young people have at this stage of
development will have life-long impact. It is imperative that
young people thrive now, not only because of the impact this
has on the communities of the future, because they are a
valued part of the community today.

The NSW Government can choose to make NSW the best
possible place for young people, particularly those who
experience intersectional and compounding disadvantage
and exclusion.

There are 10 fundamental changes young people need.

4                                                               A NSW for Young People: Beyond 2019
AS DETAILED IN ‘A NSW FOR YOUNG PEOPLE: BEYOND 2019’
YOUTH ACTION IS CALLING ON ALL PARTIES TO:

 REINTRODUCE REAL REPRESENTATION                    ACHIEVE EXCELLENT AND AFFORDABLE
 OF YOUNG PEOPLE IN GOVERNMENT                      POST SCHOOL PATHWAYS
 oo
  Appoint a Minster for Young People                oo
                                                     Improve school to work transitions through
                                                        effective career guidance.
 IMPROVE MENTAL HEALTH OUTCOMES
 FOR YOUNG PEOPLE                                   oo
                                                     Strengthen access to Vocational Education
                                                        and Training.
 oo
  Ensure young people have appropriate
     mental health help and care that is timely     CHANGE THE STORY ON YOUTH
     and youth-specific.                            UNEMPLOYMENT
 oo
  Take steps to prevent youth suicide.              oo
                                                     Make a youth unemployment plan in the first
                                                        100 days of government.
 PROTECT YOUNG PEOPLE AND CARE
 LEAVERS IN NSW TO GROW UP                          oo
                                                     Lead the way on best youth employment practice.
 HEALTHILY, HAPPILY AND SAFELY                      oo
                                                     Help young people who need it to get and
 oo
  Ensure young people at risk of harm get better        keep work.
     protection and support.
                                                    oo
                                                     Make transport free for young jobseekers.
 oo
  Invest in prevention and early intervention for
     young people to address issues before they     MAKE NSW A SAFE STATE FOR YOUNG
     become a crisis.                               PEOPLE

 oo
  Raise the age of leaving care to 21, for young    oo
                                                     Make prevention of gender-based violence a key
                                                        priority in NSW secondary schools.
     people who wish to stay beyond 18.

 oo
  Give young people who are leaving care the        oo
                                                     Ensure young people with experience of domestic
                                                        and family violence can access the right support.
     support and skills they need to succeed.

                                                    KEEP YOUNG PEOPLE OUT OF PRISON
 ENABLE ALL YOUNG PEOPLE TO HAVE
 A SAFE AND AFFORDABLE PLACE TO                     oo
                                                     Support justice reinvestment via youth and
 CALL HOME                                              community-led solutions.

 oo
  Support first home buyers.
                                                    oo
                                                     Use the whole range of diversionary options to
                                                        their full extent.
 oo
  Secure a better deal for young people who
     are renting.
                                                    oo
                                                     Raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility
                                                        in NSW to at least 14 years.
 oo
  Plan to end homelessness.

 CREATE AN EDUCATION SYSTEM
                                                    oo
                                                     Implement immediate changes to make
                                                        detention, as a last resort, safe for young people.
 THAT EQUIPS YOUNG PEOPLE FOR
 THEIR FUTURE
                                                    RESOURCE A JOINED-UP NSW YOUTH
 oo  Make sure all schools have a Student           DEVELOPMENT SECTOR TO BE
     Support Officer.                               ACCESSIBLE TO ALL YOUNG PEOPLE
  Improve the use of suspension so that it supports oo
 oo                                                  Fund the youth development sector to meet
     young people and their education outcomes.         need across the continuum.

 oo
  Ensure young people with disability
                                                    oo
                                                     Change the system to enable services to adapt
     educational equality.                              and respond to local need, including through
                                                        outcomes frameworks.

                                                                                                              5
Improve mental health
outcomes for young people

Young people should live happy,
                                          THE NSW GOVERNMENT CAN:
healthy and fulfilled lives that give
them a strong foundation for their
                                          oo
                                           Fund a fully integrated youth-specific
                                              mental health service system that
mental wellbeing. However, young              coordinates care from prevention to
people are particularly at risk of poor       early intervention, through to clinical
                                              and specialist care. This should prioritise
mental health and, at the moment,             gaps experienced by young people from
we are not responding quickly or              regional, rural and remote areas, who are
effectively enough.                           Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, or who
                                              are LGBTI young people.

                                          oo
                                           Develop and implement a youth-
                                              specific suicide prevention plan in
                                              consultation with children and young
                                              people. This should include a culturally-
                                              appropriate, community-led and targeted
    75% of mental health                      Aboriginal plan.
    problems first appear                 oo
                                           Fund a youth-specific mental health service
    before the age of 25.1                    system that acts to eliminate or subsidise
                                              transport barriers that prevent young
    1 in 4 young people                       people getting help.
    aged 16–24 experience                 oo
                                           Introduce compulsory mental health first
    a mental illness.2                        aid for GPs, frontline workers, and people
                                              who have high contact with young people.
    More than 70%
    of young women                        oo
                                           Support programs, such as Friend2Friend,
                                              which recognise that young people often
    and 80%                                   turn to friends first, and their friends
    of young men                              should be equipped to help out.
    who need help and
    support don’t get it.3

    45% of all young people
    who died by suicide in
    2016 were from NSW.

    83% of young people
    turn to friends for help
    before others.4

6                                                                  A NSW for Young People: Beyond 2019
Young people should live happy, healthy and fulfilled       Suicide remains a critical issue. More young people die
lives that give them a strong foundation for their mental   by suicide than in car accidents.13 In 2016, 391 young
wellbeing. However, young people are particularly at risk   people aged 15–24 died by suicide, with 45% of those
of poor mental health and, at the moment, we are not        being in NSW.14 From 2011 to 2015, Aboriginal and
responding quickly or effectively enough.                   Torres Strait Islander people aged 15–24 were around
                                                            four times more likely than non-Indigenous Australians
Young people also live with mental illnesses every day.
                                                            of the same age to die from intentional self-harm.15
Mental health issues are associated with social and
economic disadvantages, such as impaired academic           Youth Action undertook significant primary research
achievement and school attendance, hindered social          in 2017 consulting and engaging with young people,
development, unemployment and housing instability.          youth support services, and frontline workers providing
Young people are particularly at risk:                      mental health services in metropolitan, regional and
                                                            remote areas. This research demonstrated that the
• 1 in 4 young people aged 16–24 experience a
                                                            current mental health system is segmented, outdated
  mental illness.5
                                                            and adult-centric. This makes it difficult for young people
• 14% of those aged 14–17 experience a mental               to navigate, and the limited youth-focus is alienating.
  health condition each year.6                              The inaccessibility of services means young people
                                                            go without the support they need, and don’t develop
• 1 in 5 young people aged 15–19 have levels of
                                                            appropriate help-seeking behaviours.16
  psychological stress that indicate a probable
  serious mental illness.7                                  Young people living remotely are more likely to experience
When young people are struggling with their mental          isolation, poverty and a lack of services, and often have a
health, they are prone to self-isolation and behaviours     strong culture of self-reliance that discourages help-seeking
that risk their health, like substance abuse.8 Despite      behaviour. Rates of suicide and self-harm increase for
the high risks they face, quality and access to services    young people who live outside of major cities and increase
for young people aged 12–24 is among the poorest.9          further with their remoteness. Because of this, there
Only 9.9% of mental health expenditure by States and        should be a specific focus on those in rural and regional
Territories in the year 2010–2011 was directed at child     areas. Youth service workers, frontline staff and other
and adolescent mental health programs, and only 0.2%        health professionals consistently report waits of up to three
at youth mental health services specifically.10             months to see mental health specialists.17 Psychiatric beds
                                                            can take more than a year to access in critical situations.18
One of the most frightening aspects of youth mental
health is the growing rates of suicide. Suicide is the      Because regional young people struggle with service
primary cause of death among young people in Australia      availability, youth mental health providers such as
and the number of young Australians who have died           headspace, ReachOut and Kids Helpline have successfully
by suicide as the result of a mental health condition       introduced e-mental health solutions. While these
is the highest it has been in ten years.11 Occurrences      cannot substitute for in-person counselling, they are
of intentional self-harm are estimated to be between        extremely effective at providing information, support, and
40–100 times greater than the number of young people        assessment, and can assist prevention and management
who die due to intentional self-harm.12                     of symptoms. They have the benefit of a high degree
                                                            of anonymity, meaning they are often useful early
                                                            identification and referral tools.

                                                                                                                         7
Stigma continues to be a concern for young people. Four         The NSW can act to prevent poor youth mental health
out of five young people in Australia think that people         and suicide. Improving access to youth-specific mental
their age will not seek support for anxiety or depression       health and suicide prevention services for young people,
because they are worried about what other people will           to address the complex mental health needs that are
think of them.19 The provision of meaningful e-health           currently overlooked. Without significant funding and
services helps young people overcome stigma and                 attention, the rates will not decrease.
reluctance to seek help.

But there is a lot that can be done to improve outcomes         THE NSW GOVERNMENT CAN:
for young people. Intervention can be particularly              oo
                                                                 Fund a fully integrated youth-specific mental health
potent in adolescence. It is well established that young            service system that coordinates a spectrum of care
people experience a key period of rapid and extensive               from prevention to early intervention, through to
psychological and biological growth, ‘second only to early          clinical and specialist care. This should prioritise gaps
childhood in the rate and breadth of developmental                  experienced by regional, rural and remote young
change’,20 coupled with an increase in vulnerability                people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young
to a range of risks. During such an important period                people, as well as LGBTI young people.
of growth, risks can become embedded or averted.
Interventions during adolescence can decrease the
                                                                oo
                                                                 Develop and implement a youth-specific suicide
                                                                    prevention plan in consultation with children and
adverse long-term impacts of, for example, violence and             young people. This should include a culturally-
abuse with the potential to change life trajectories.21             appropriate, community-led and targeted
Many of the mental health and wellbeing challenges faced            Aboriginal plan.
by adults can be traced to adolescence or young adulthood
                                                                oo
                                                                 Fund a youth-specific mental health service system
and intervening early in a person’s life and providing them         that acts to eliminate or subsidise transport barriers
with support and capacity-building when mental health               that prevent young people getting help.
concerns begin to emerge significantly decreases the
impact and intensity of those issues later in life.22 Growing   oo
                                                                 Introduce compulsory mental health first aid for GPs,
                                                                    frontline workers, and people who have high contact
protective factors and access to services is essential. Early
                                                                    with young people.
intervention can achieve the best outcomes for young
people and can limit negative outcomes, such as the onset       oo
                                                                 Support programs, such as Friend2Friend, which
of chronic mental illness and suicide.23                            recognise that young people often turn to friends first,
                                                                    and their friends should be equipped to help out.
We commend the work of Government through successive
suicide prevention strategies, collaboration with federal
suicide prevention and mental health strategies and
programs and the establishment of youth health services
in Local Health Districts. However, improved coordination,
funding and targeted programming are required to make
sure we stem the increase of poor mental health among
young people and vulnerable groups in NSW, and ensure
they get the help they need when they need it.

8                                                                                             A NSW for Young People: Beyond 2019
ENDNOTES                                                                        Subject/3303.0~2013~Media%20Release~Changes%20in%20
                                                                                Australia’s%20leading%20causes%20of%20death%20(Media%20
1 Mission Australia, 2015, Young People’s Mental Health Over the Years:
                                                                                Release)~10041>
  Youth Survey 2012–2014, p.21.
                                                                             12 Australian Human Rights Commission, 2014, Children’s Rights Report
2 Slade J et al., 2009, The mental health of Australians 2: report
                                                                                2014, AHRC, Sydney, accessed via:                         13 beyondblue, ND, Stats and facts, accessed via: 
3 Hosie A et al., 2014, Crossroads: Rethinking the Australian mental
  health system, ReachOut Australia, accessed via: 

4 Ivancic L et al., 2018, Lifting the weight: Understanding young people’s   15 Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2013, Causes of Death,
  mental health and service needs in regional and remote Australia,             Australia, 2013, cat. no. 3303.0, ABS, accessed via: 
  Department of Health and Ageing, access via:                            youth suicide, Youth Action, Sydney, accessed via: 
6 Lawrence D et al., 2015, The mental health of children and adolescents:
  Report on the second Australian child and adolescent survey of mental      17 Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Radio National, Radio
  health and wellbeing, Department of Health, Canberra, accessed                National Afternoons, March 2 2015, ‘Landmark Study Reveals Rural
  via: , p. 4.           Health Services’, accessed at http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/
                                                                                programs/rnafternoons/rural-mental-health/6274578
7 Sawyer M et al, 2000, The Mental Health of Young People in
  Australia, Department of Health and Ageing, Canberra, accessed             18 Radio National Afternoons, radio program, ABC Radio National,
  via:  p. 43.                                                                   accessed via: 
8 Costello L, Thomson M, Jones K, 2013, Mental Health and Homelessness:
  Final Report, Mental Health Commission of NSW, accessed via:               19 MediaCom Melbourne, 2015, youthbeyondblue Anxiety and Depression
  , p. 1.
                                                                             21 World Health Organisation, 2014, Health for the World’s Adolescents:
9 Mission Australia, 2015, Young People’s Mental Health Over the
                                                                                A second chance in the second decade, WHO, Geneva, Switzerland,
  Years: Youth Survey 2012–2014, p.21.
                                                                                accessed via: , p. 3.
   report 2013: Tacking progress of mental health reform in Australia
                                                                             22 Fox S et al., 2015, Better Systems, Better Chances: A Review of Research
   1993–2011, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, p.37.
                                                                                and Practice for Prevention and Early Intervention Australian Research
11 Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2013, Causes of Death,                      Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY), Canberra, p. 21.
   Australia, 2013, cat. no. 3303.0, ABS, accessed via:
Protect young people and care
leavers in NSW to grow up
healthily, happily and safely

All young people have the right to be safe and to receive
loving care and support. Young people also have a right to
receive the services they need to enable them to succeed
in life.
However, in NSW the number of children and young people entering care is
increasing, which places more pressure on the system. As a result, young people
who need help often don’t get it. The numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander children and young people entering care have increased and continue
to be significantly overrepresented in the care population. Young people who
leave care have significantly poor outcomes.

  Out of a total 59,092                                     THE NSW GOVERNMENT CAN:
  children in NSW receiving                                 oo
                                                             Develop a whole of government policy and
  child protection services,                                   practice framework, and a strategy that

  7,142 were                                                   articulates a strong commitment specifically
                                                               to at risk young people, including Aboriginal
  aged 15–17 years,
                                                               young people, with measures to track progress
                                                   16,003

  significantly less
  than the                                                     and provide accountability.
                                  59,092

                                           7,142

  16,003                                                    oo
                                                             Commit to increase expenditure to prevention
  aged 10–14 years.      1                                     and early intervention over a five-year period,
                                                               including programs for prevention and early
                                                               intervention for young people aged 12–25
  Aboriginal and Torres Strait                                 in NSW.
  Islander children are
  ten times                                                 oo
                                                             Raise the age of leaving out-of-home care
                                                               to 21, for young people who wish to stay
  more likely to be placed in                                  beyond 18, as recommended by the Home
  out of home care (OOHC),2
                                                               Stretch campaign.4 There should be adequate
                                                               supports attached in relation to housing,
  Investigation by                                             education, employment, life skills, mental
  the NSW Ombudsman                                            health and peer support, and adequate
  in 2014 reported that                                        assistance for carers.
  ‘a higher proportion
  of reports about                                          oo
                                                             Implement policies to prepare young people
                                                               to transition to independence and invest in
  adolescents were
                                                               quality monitoring of agencies’ compliance
  often receiving
  no response.’ 3                                              with these policies.

10                                                                                  A NSW for Young People: Beyond 2019
Young people have the right to a response when they          worst of poor social outcomes, such as involvement in
require care and protection, and intervention can            justice systems, homelessness, unemployment and poor
reap both personal and systemic rewards. Yet, as a           mental health.
consequence of additional pressure on the system,
                                                             This tension is reflected, but not well addressed, in
young people who are at risk and who need support
                                                             NSW’s child protection systems. While NSW has provided
don’t get it. It is very clear from a range of systems
                                                             important investment in the early years of life, policy
reviews, government policy statements, data sets, and
                                                             and strategy has not kept pace with the evidence base
through evidence provided from youth support services
                                                             around adolescent intervention. This is also true of the
that young people at risk in NSW are not receiving a
                                                             child protection system; when prioritisation is necessary,
sufficient systemic response.
                                                             very young children are considered a high priority
Young people in NSW often are not receiving a statutory      while young people are not. Despite strong evidence
child protection intervention when it is needed. Aside       on the importance of life cycles and the effectiveness
from a statutory response, when a young person comes         of intervention both in early childhood as well as
into contact with the system – whether they are reported     adolescence, it is clear from data, as well as reports from
as at Risk of Significant Harm (ROSH) or below ROSH          those who work on the ground with young people that
– there should be mechanisms in place that trigger a         are ‘older,’ young people such as those aged 14–17 are
response.5 Many young people at risk of harm do not get      not well supported across the child protection system.
the support they need.
                                                             The 2011 Child Rights report further highlights the
As a result, the youth support sector is working with        unmet need for young people, stating: ‘There is a lack of
an increasing number of complex clients without the          government attention to older children and adolescents.
appropriate recognition or funding. This has flow-on         This is most evident in the “buck-passing” between
effects as to how well NSW can stop the escalation of        community services and youth justice authorities
young people in crisis while early intervention services     when children in need of care come into contact
are increasingly dealing with complex and crisis clients.    with the criminal justice system, the lack of adequate
                                                             accommodation options for older children, and the
There is also tension between children and young
                                                             abuse of children even after they have been the subject
people the child protection system of NSW. There
                                                             of care orders.’9
is no shortage of evidence that demonstrates the
impact of the first years of life on lifelong health and     Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and
wellbeing outcomes.6 It is well established that young       young people are vastly over-represented in the child
people experience a key period of rapid and extensive        protection system. Multiple inquiries have reinforced the
psychological and biological growth, ‘second only to early   consistent and enduring issues of the child protection
childhood in the rate and breadth of developmental           system in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
change,’7 coupled with an increase in vulnerability          young people. Many of the 54 recommendations
to a range of risks. During such an important period         outlined Bringing Them Home,10 directed at healing and
of growth, risks can become embedded or averted.             reconciliation, as well as addressing the policies and
Interventions during adolescence can decrease the            practices around contemporary removals of Aboriginal
adverse long-term impacts of, for example, violence and      and Torres Strait Islander children and young people
abuse.8 The intervention of the child protection system      from their families, remain unrealised almost 20
can serve to protect vulnerable young people from the        years later.

                                                                                                                    11
The asserted principle of self-determination for             It is well documented that prevention and early
Indigenous peoples is the key to reversing the over-         intervention are both more effective in achieving
representation of Indigenous children in the child           positive outcomes and a stronger investment. As put
welfare system and to eliminating unjustified removals of    by Allen and Smith, ‘The two public policy strengths of
Indigenous children from their families.11                   Early Intervention are firstly that it is less expensive and
                                                             second it is more effective than late intervention. It is no
NSW has the highest rate of removals in Australia,
                                                             longer viable to take ever increasing amounts of taxation
with approximately one in ten Aboriginal and Torres
                                                             from the public to deal with the ever-increasing impact
Strait Islander children and young people in OOHC.12
                                                             of failing to intervene early.’15 As highlighted by Australian
While FaCS has made efforts to address this, such as
                                                             Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY),
developing the Aboriginal Cultural Inclusion Framework
                                                             ‘expenditure on late intervention and crisis response is
2015–2018, aiming to embed Aboriginal cultural
                                                             becoming unsustainable – rising demand and increasing
inclusion, accountability and monitoring processes
                                                             complexity is creating significant long-term challenges
into the work of FaCS,13 this has not been enough to
                                                             for government budgets.’16
reduce the disproportionate rate of removals. The
facts of contemporary separation highlight a need for        It is clear that the tertiary intervention to protect
fundamental change in child protection legislation, policy   children and young people from harm is not adequately
and practice.                                                resourced. Nor does this give basis for a reduction or
                                                             removal of funding from young people in crisis. It must,
Young people should get timely and appropriate support
                                                             however, be recognised that there is a very real risk of
services, even if it’s not a statutory response, when
                                                             the continual growth of young people in crisis, because
they’re reported at risk of harm.
                                                             support to prevent, intervene early or mitigate crisis is
                                                             neglected. In NSW, while there are positive indications
THE NSW GOVERNMENT CAN:                                      about early intervention, the rhetoric fails to shift to real
                                                             financial commitment.
oo
 Develop a whole of government policy and practice
     framework, and a strategy that articulates a strong
     commitment specifically to at risk young people,        THE NSW GOVERNMENT CAN:
     including Aboriginal young people, with measures to
     track progress and provide accountability.
                                                             oo
                                                              Commit to increase expenditure to prevention and
                                                                 early intervention over a five-year period, including
We need to make sure that every preventative effort              programs for prevention and early intervention for
has been made so that removing a child or young                  young people aged 12–25 in NSW.
person from a family is a last resort. Prevention and        Young people leaving care are some of the most
early intervention is critical to reduce the increasing      vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in Australia.
numbers of children and young people in crisis. This is      In the first year of leaving care, 35% of young people
a core strategy of the National Framework for Protecting     are homeless, only 35% complete Year 12, 29% are
Australia’s Children: ‘Australia needs to move from seeing   unemployed, and 46% of males are involved in the youth
“protecting children” merely as a response to abuse and      justice system.17
neglect to one of promoting the safety and wellbeing
of children.’ 14

12                                                                                         A NSW for Young People: Beyond 2019
In the past six months, Tasmania, Victoria, South
Australia and Western Australia have all committed to
or started implementing policies to extend support for
young people in out-of-home care until the age of 21.18

Analysis from Deloitte found that compared with
18-year-old care leavers, those staying in care until 21
were half as likely to become homeless, 24% less likely
to suffer mental illness and 13% less likely to be drug
dependent.19 Every dollar invested in an extension of
OOHC support in NSW would see a return of $3.40.20

While extending out-of-home care is an excellent option
for many young people, the NSW government needs to
continue to improve its transition planning outcomes
so that young people not only have, are aware of, and
are happy with their leaving care plan, but that it goes
beyond a piece of paper and ensures that young people
have the skills and relationships in place to thrive
independent of care.

THE NSW GOVERNMENT CAN:
oo
 Raise the age of leaving out-of-home care to 21,
    for young people who wish to stay beyond 18, as
    recommended by the Home Stretch campaign.21
    There should be adequate supports attached
    in relation to housing, education, employment,
    life skills, mental health and peer support, and
    adequate assistance for carers.

oo
 Implement policies to prepare young people
    to transition to independence and invest in
    quality monitoring of agencies’ compliance with
    these policies.

                                                           13
ENDNOTES                                                                       17 ibid., p. 32.

1 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2016, ‘Child Protection          18 Marchese D, 2018, ‘Supporting foster kids until 21 would slash
  Australia 2014–15’, Child Welfare Series Number 63, AIHW, Canberra,             homelessness and teen pregnancies, study finds’, Triple J Hack,
  p. 71.                                                                          ABC News, 24 October 2018, accessed via: 
3    NSW Ombudsman, 2014, Review of the NSW Child Protection System:
    Are things Improving?, accessed via: 

4   http://thehomestretch.org.au/                                              20 Deloitte, 2018, Extending care to 21 years in New South Wales,
                                                                                  commissioned by Home Stretch Campaign NSW, Sydney, accessed
5 Youth Action, 2016, Submission: Inquiry into Child Protection, Youth            via: 
                                                                               21 http://thehomestretch.org.au/
6   Fox S et al., 2015, Better Systems, Better Chances: A Review of Research
    and Practice for Prevention and Early Intervention Australian Research
    Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY), Canberra, p. 21.

7   ibid.

8    World Health Organisation, 2014, Health for the World’s Adolescents:
    A second chance in the second decade, WHO, Geneva, Switzerland,
    accessed via: , p. 3.

9   ibid. p.15

10 Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, 1997, Bringing
   them home, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra.

11 Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, 1997, Bringing
   them home, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra.

12 Grandmothers Against Removals, 2015, Guiding principles for
   strengthening the participation of local Aboriginal community in child
   protection decision making, GMAR, 2015.

13 Department of Family and Community Services, 2014, Aboriginal
   Inclusion Framework 2015–2018, NSW Government, Sydney.

14 Council of Australian Governments, 2012, Protecting Children is
   Everyone’s Business: National Framework for Protecting Australia’s
   Children 2009–2020, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, p. 7.

15 Allen G & Smith ID, 2008, Early intervention: Good parents, great
   kids, better citizens, Centre for Social Justice and the Smith Institute,
   London, UK, p.113.

16 Fox S et al., 2015, Better Systems, Better Chances: A Review of Research
   and Practice for Prevention and Early Intervention Australian Research
   Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY), Canberra, p. 2.

14                                                                                                                A NSW for Young People: Beyond 2019
Enable all young people to
have a safe and affordable
place to call home

Every young person in NSW should have
                                                       NSW GOVERNMENT CAN:
an affordable and secure place to call
                                                       Support first home buyers by:
home. Housing impacts on all aspects of                oo Investing in the social and affordable housing
a young person’s life such as health and                  that Australia needs.
wellbeing, access to education and skill               oo
                                                        Prioritising first home-buyers over property
development, and work opportunities.                       speculators by resetting the tax system.
                                                       Secure a better deal for renters by:
For young people in NSW, high rental costs, low
incomes, insecure share housing, and the lack of       oo Prohibiting ‘no grounds’ evictions in the
                                                          NSW Rental Tenancies Act 2010
affordable housing and social housing stock all make
having a place to live a challenge. While some young   oo
                                                        Tightening regulations around applications
people are staying at home for longer, others don’t        for rentals to stop discrimination.
have the option.
                                                       Plan to end homelessness by:
                                                       oo  Addressing all the drivers of homelessness,
                                                           including the lack of affordable housing,
                                                           poverty and family violence.

                                                       oo
                                                        Rapidly rehousing people who are homeless
  In the last ten years in                                 and help them stay there.
  NSW, homelessness                                    oo
                                                        Addressing the over-representation of
  amongst young
  people aged 18–24 has
                                        9 2%
                                                       oo
                                                           Aboriginal people among the homeless.

  increased
                                                        Committing to ending homelessness by 2030
                                                           in negotiation with federal, state and territory
  by 92%.           1                                      governments by taking action to prevent
                                                           homelessness and delivering rapid access to
                                                           the housing and support people need if they
  In 2016, there were
                                                           do lose their own home.
  9,048 young                                          oo
                                                        Improving access to early intervention
  people experiencing
                                                           programs that identify young people at risk
  homelessness in NSW.2
                                                           before they reach crisis point.

  More than                                            oo
                                                        Expanding funding for long-term transitional
                                                           services that include wrap-around support
  half of young                                            based on models designed and proven to
  people under 24                                          work with young people
  continue to experience
  housing
  stress.       3

                                                                                                           15
Stable, affordable and suitable housing is necessary to       Young people also tend to be low income earners.
ensure a young person’s economic, mental, physical            Young people are at a point in their lives in which they
and social wellbeing early in life. It is also connected to   are employed part-time or casually, in part to enable
a positive sense of self, good health, social cohesion        flexibility for study commitments or to undertake
and educational completion. However, in NSW it is             apprenticeships. On average, those in full-time
notoriously difficult for young people to attain stable       employment earn between $600–$900 per week, and
housing and they are increasingly becoming long-term          those in part-time employment earn around $180–
renters because rising housing prices lock them out of        $380.9 A quarter of low-income households pay rent in
the market. Young people in NSW should have access to         excess of 50% of their total income.10 More than half of
stable, affordable and appropriate housing options, and       young people under 24 continue to experience housing
rarely find themselves at risk of homelessness.               stress even after receiving government-funded rental
                                                              support.11 In 2017, young people were hit the hardest by
When it comes to accessing housing generally, young
                                                              financial stress, with 50% of young people aged 18–29
people face barriers and discrimination. High rental
                                                              having difficulty paying for the necessities – like food,
costs, low incomes, insecure share housing, and the lack
                                                              rent or bills.12
of affordable housing and social housing stock all make
independent living a challenge for many young people.         This lack of affordable housing has resulted in
While some young people are staying at home for               concerning trends such as overcrowding, shared
longer, for others this simply is not an option.              accommodation and informal leases. Rental
                                                              accommodation is insecure in tenure, and young people
MORE YOUNG PEOPLE ARE RENTING IN                              are seen by landlords as ‘risky.’ As a result, it becomes
AN INCREASINGLY UNAFFORDABLE AND                              increasingly difficult for young people to access what
INSECURE MARKET                                               little affordable rental accommodation there is.
With homeownership falling for younger people,4 more
                                                              Discrimination is real for young people in the
young people are renting. With a generation potentially
                                                              rental market. In a nationally representative survey,
destined to be ‘permanent renters,’ renting needs to be
                                                              young people were 14% more likely to experience
affordable, safe and secure. There was a 14.1% increase
                                                              discrimination in relation to their age and were more
in young households renting (aged between 15–24
                                                              likely to say they were discriminated against (55%)
years) from 2005–2012.5 Indeed, in 2012, 77.7% of
                                                              compared with those over the age of 35 – particularly
households headed by 15–24-year-olds in Australia were
                                                              in regard to their age (22%).13
renting in the private rental market.6
                                                              In NSW, the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 allows
The rental market is also becoming increasingly
                                                              landlords to evict tenants without requiring a reason.
unviable for young people due to problems with the
                                                              While recent changes to NSW legislation has been
affordability and stability of renting in NSW. According
                                                              positive for renters, unfair ‘no grounds’ evictions and
to the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute
                                                              room for discrimination still exist. Research shows that
(AHURI), four out of five ‘very low-income’ households
                                                              8% of Australians have experienced a ‘no grounds’
pay an unaffordable rent.7 In 2018, only two out of
                                                              eviction during their rental history.14 These kinds of
67,000 rental properties surveyed were ‘affordable’ to a
                                                              legal loopholes leave renters, especially young renters,
young person receiving Youth Allowance or Newstart.8
                                                              vulnerable to housing instability and discrimination.

16                                                                                        A NSW for Young People: Beyond 2019
Another significant issue is the short-term nature        services are culturally appropriate and aware of needs
of rental tenancies. Over two million people rent in      that are specific to particular groups.
NSW, and it is estimated that 83% are on a no fixed
                                                          Homelessness amongst young people costs Australia
term lease.15
                                                          an estimated $747 million extra per year in costs to the
                                                          medical and criminal justice systems. This is in addition
A NSW GOVERNMENT CAN (AS                                  to the costs of providing specialist housing services.20
RECOMMENDED BY EVERYBODY’S HOME):                         Providing better pathways into safe and secure long-
Support first home buyers by:                             term housing will not only benefit young people, it will
oo Investing in the social and affordable                 also benefit governments and community in the form of
   housing that Australia needs.                          significant cost savings.

oo
 Prioritising first home-buyers over property             Ensuring that all young people have access to safe, secure
    speculators by resetting the tax system.              housing requires a response from many areas, including
Secure a better deal for renters by:                      federal and state government, the education system and
oo Prohibiting ‘no grounds’ evictions in the NSW          employment providers. It will encompass working within
   Rental Tenancies Act 2010.                             an early intervention model with families and schools,
                                                          addressing overall housing affordability, and ensuring
oo
 Tightening regulations around applications
                                                          better transitions out of government institutions such as
    for rentals to stop discrimination.
                                                          juvenile justice, psychiatric hospital and OOHC.
YOUTH HOMELESSNESS IS INCREASING                          Young people require a different model of support and
Housing and rental unaffordability and insecurity are     service than adults.21 Youth-specific services are best
some of the factors that have increased the risk of       placed to support the complex needs and vulnerability
youth homelessness. Young people are particularly         of young people who do not have a safe and stable place
vulnerable to homelessness.16 More young people           to live. Given the importance of adolescence and early
experience homelessness in NSW than in any other          adulthood for development, it is vital that intervention
state, and in 2016 there were 9,048 young people          into homelessness occur as early as possible. Early
12–24 experiencing homelessness in NSW.17                 intervention, outreach, rapid rehousing and ongoing
                                                          support will greatly assist young people to transition
Young people are overrepresented in the homelessness
                                                          out of homelessness. This should involve partnering with
population, representing approximately 25% of the
                                                          schools, other educational institutions, the community
homelessness population in NSW,18 despite only being
                                                          and youth organisations, to identify young people who
18% of the NSW population.19 Youth homelessness
                                                          are at risk of homelessness early.
figures are also generally accepted as vastly
underestimated, with ongoing difficulties in accounting   Generalist youth services are essential services in relation
for those who are, for example, couch surfing or living   to preventing and intervening early for young people at
in overcrowded accommodation.                             risk of homelessness. Their role is to form relationships
                                                          and provide service to enhance the protective assets in
Homelessness does not affect every young person
                                                          young people’s lives, as well as support them intensively
equally and particular groups face higher risks. It is
                                                          in times of need. These services are different to the
therefore essential that housing and homelessness
                                                          specialist programs that provide housing and support

                                                                                                                   17
to attain housing. Despite this, young people approach
youth services for support for housing and homelessness.
Services also work with correlates of homelessness
including particularly family breakdown, family/household
violence and relationship breakdown or violence; but also
drug and alcohol support needs, mental health needs,
and needs associated with exclusion from education,
training and employment.22

Homeless young people, rental stress and poverty, as
well as the decrease in homeownership, are interrelated
products of poor housing affordability.

THE NSW GOVERNMENT CAN (AS
RECOMMENDED BY EVERYBODY’S HOME):
oo
 Address all the drivers of homelessness, including
     the lack of affordable housing, poverty and
     family violence.

oo
 Rapidly rehouse people who are homeless and
     help them stay there.

oo
 Address the over-representation of
     Aboriginal people.

oo
 Commit to ending homelessness by 203 in
     negotiation with federal, state and territory
     governments, by taking action to prevent
     homelessness and delivering rapid access to the
     housing and support people need if they do lose
     their own home.

THE NSW GOVERNMENT CAN:
oo
 Improve access to early intervention programs
     that identify young people at risk before they reach
     crisis point.

oo
 Expand funding for long-term transitional services
     that include wrap-around support based on models
     designed and proven to work with young people.

18                                                          A NSW for Young People: Beyond 2019
ENDNOTES                                                                      com.au/more-than-half-of-young-australians-have-
                                                                              problems-paying-bills-or-buying-basic-necessities-2017-
1 YFoundations, 2018, Census reveals rate of youth homelessness in NSW
                                                                              6?fbclid=IwAR0kqvTdWMxbs8cwNuq-Z_2jPlHb756hn0yCkWG0E_
  has doubled, media release, Yfoundations, Sydney, 14 March 2018,
                                                                              eWtrrMrFuCIZrMe7I>
  accessed via:                                           13 Choice, National Shelter & National Association of Tenant
                                                                              Organisations (NATO), 2017, Unsettled: Life in Australia’s private rental
2    YFoundations, 2018, Census reveals rate of youth homelessness in
                                                                              market, Sydney, accessed via: 
    2018, accessed via:                                   14 ibid., p. 18.

3 Productivity Commission, 2016, Report on Government Services             15 ibid., p.9
  2016, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, accessed via: , section: G.6.
                                                                           17 Power J, 2018, ‘’You can see it in their eyes’: The hardest thing about
4 Chalkley-Rhoden S, 2017, ‘Home ownership in Australia in decline
                                                                              being homeless’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 April 2018, accessed
  for three decades: Grattan Institute’, ABC News, 17 July 2017,
                                                                              via:                                                        18 ABS, 2013, Table 3: State and Territory of Usual Residence,
                                                                              Number of homeless persons–by selected characteristics–2001,
5 Lovering M, 2014, Evidence review 058: Marrying later, renting
                                                                              2006 and 2011, data cube: Excel spreadsheet, cat. no. 2049.0,
  longer, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI),
                                                                              accessed via: 
6 ibid.
                                                                           19 ABS, 2014, Table 8: Estimated resident population, by age and sex–
7 Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, 2015, ‘How great           at 30 June 2014, data cube: Excel spreadsheet, cat. no. 3101.0,
  is the shortage of affordable housing in Australia’s private rental         accessed via: 
8 Anglicare Australia, 2018. Rental Affordability Snapshot 2018,           20 Flatau P, Thielking M, MacKenzie D & Steen A, 2015, The Cost
  Anglicare Australia, Canberra.
                                                                              Of Youth Homelessness In Australia Study: The Australian Youth
9 ABS, 2012, ‘Average weekly earnings (a), By age group’, graph,              Homelessness Experience, Snapshot Salvation Army
  Year Book Australia, cat. no. 1301.0, accessed via: 
                                                                           22 Youth Work Snapshot 2011,
10 AHRUI, 2015, op.cit.

11 Productivity Commission, 2016, Report on Government Services
   2016, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, accessed via: , section: G.6.

12 Scutt D, 2017, ‘More than half of young Australians have
   problems paying bills or buying basic necessities’, Business Insider,
   16 June 2017, accessed via:
Create an education system
that equips young people
for their future

Young people in NSW should enjoy
                                                          THE NSW GOVERNMENT CAN:
full access to affordable and quality
                                                          oo
                                                           Provide committed and increased funding for
education that meets their current                            Student Support Officers across NSW, with
needs and prepares them for the future.                       changes to the funding model to allow for
                                                              more equitable access for schools, particularly
This means moving beyond a ‘bricks and
                                                              in areas of high need and for regional, rural
mortar’ approach to school investment,                        and remote areas.
and ensuring all young people are
                                                          oo
                                                           Require NSW schools to publish data on their
engaged and supported to learn.                               school exclusion statistics and make their
                                                              disciplinary policies publicly available.
It’s clear that young people need additional support
to stay engaged in school, and we need to make sure       oo
                                                           Require NSW schools to review suspension
that those who need the most support aren’t excluded          cases on a regular basis to ensure schools
from education entirely. Transitions from school              are using suspension as a safeguard and
are a challenging time, and its vital that pathways           last resort.
from school to higher education training or work are
excellent, affordable and the right fit for the future.
                                                          oo
                                                           Form an independent body with expertise
                                                              in both a school context and in working with
                                                              young people to review school suspensions
                                                              and ensure all young people have access to
  20%                                                         supportive and quality education.
  of young people are                        20%
  not attending                                           oo
                                                           As recommend by the NSW Ombudsman,
                                             20%              require NSW schools to systematically identify
  school,                                                     the students who require individualised
  and a further 20% do                                        intervention and support, and track practice,
  not feel they belong in                                     progress, and outcomes in relation to
  their school.1                                              these students, including mechanisms for
  More than half                                              identifying those who require escalation to
  of Australian students                                      additional support.4
  are studying in fields                                  oo
                                                           Implement a consistent definition of disability
  where more than                                             in schools and appropriate funding for
  two-thirds                                                  students with a disability.
  of jobs will be
                                                          oo
                                                           Improve inclusive training for teachers and
  automated.              2
                                                              staff coupled with appropriate polices and
                                                              frameworks to ensure greater outcomes.
  27% or 26,535
  of young people in NSW
  did not reach Year 12 or
  an equivalent by age 19.3

20                                                                                 A NSW for Young People: Beyond 2019
Education is a key determinant of a young person’s              STUDENT SUPPORT OFFICERS
economic, social and emotional development, and is              There is a significant body of research that shows links
crucial for establishing a sense of identity and place in       between a school’s emphasis on wellbeing and positive
the world. Young people have the right to an education          mental health and social outcomes for its students.13 In
that effectively prepares them for the present and the          NSW, the Supported Students, Successful Students program
future, that is high-quality, affordable, safe and supportive   provides schools with services such as psychologists,
and meets their individual and diverse needs. Education         school counsellors and Student Support Officers (SSO).
encompasses life-long learning that supports young              Supported Students, Successful Schools is flexible funding
people to develop socially, intellectually, physically and      for wellbeing services, and of 3,000 public schools
emotionally, as well as to engage in the labour market.         only 381 have access to funding. From 2018–2020
Across NSW there are over 3,000 government (public) and         funding was allocated to the Student Wellbeing Support
non-government (Independent and Catholic systemic)              Program, a three-year program of $7,000 annually to
schools in NSW, supporting over 1.1 million primary and         assist schools to fund the employment of a student
secondary school students.5 Of these, there are over            wellbeing support officer.
540,000 young people aged 12–17,6 with around 507,000           Youth Action’s consultation with members showed that the
(as at 2015) positively participating in education.7            wellbeing programs in schools can be inconsistent, with:
However, some young people are neither engaged in               • School counsellor positions being unfilled for long
education or training. The school retention rate for NSW          periods of time.
is one of the lowest across Australia, and although young
people are increasingly at school, some are disengaging         • Process issues with access to school counsellors, such
and others are not achieving.8 Over 21% are still not             as long wait lists or high rates of non-attendance at
attaining a Year 12 qualification, and 25% are neither            counsellor sessions.
engaged in education nor employment Australia wide.9            • Stigma associated with being called out in the middle
Other research estimates that 20% of young people                 of class to see a counsellor.
are not attending school, and a further 20% do not feel
                                                                • A lack of specialised psychologist capacity once issues
they belong in their school.10 Australian rates of youth
                                                                  progress past what can be handled by a school
participation in education are below those of many
                                                                  counsellor.
other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
Development (OECD) countries.11                                 • Wellbeing funding being allocated towards targeted
                                                                  learning support in classrooms.
Inequalities in educational outcomes persist in NSW. Young
people from low SES, Aboriginal or from rural backgrounds       • A resistance to working with outside agencies who
as well as young people with disabilities continue to be at a     can support student wellbeing.
disadvantage in our education system.12                         As part of the Supported Students, Successful Schools
                                                                program, schools in NSW have the discretion to
Education systems in NSW need to address the barriers
                                                                employ SSOs. The initiative aimed to provide support
that prevent some young people from education and
                                                                to secondary students, with a particular focus on
schooling that meets their needs. In addition, there
                                                                reaching and engaging more vulnerable students to
should be a particular focus on ensuring outcomes for
                                                                enhance protective factors such as supporting positive
those experiencing disadvantage and those disengaging
                                                                relationships, building resilience as well as providing
from traditional delivery methods.

                                                                                                                        21
support with issues such as stress, mental health,
disengagement and bullying.14
                                                              THE NSW GOVERNMENT CAN:
                                                              oo
                                                               Provide committed funding and an increase in
An independent review of SSOs found that there is                 funding for Student Support Officers across NSW,
overwhelming support for the SSO initiative from                  with changes to the funding model to allow for
principals, school staff, SSOs, students and external             more equitable access for schools, particularly
organisations.15 The results found that:                          in areas of high need and for regional, rural and
                                                                  remote areas.
• Almost two-thirds of students in participating schools
  reported having sought the help of the SSO.                 SUSPENSION
• 80% of students said the SSO had made their school a        School should also be a safe and happy place for
  safer place.                                                students, and they should only be excluded from this
• 88% of principals said it had reduced bullying,             learning environment as a last resort. Suspension is
  including cyberbullying, 91% said it improved student       a tool used by schools to manage behaviour but it
  behaviour, and 77% said it had improved academic            is exclusionary, ineffective and significantly disrupts
  performance.16                                              the learning of a young person. It can have significant
                                                              and negative impacts on young people. Suspension
The review also found that SSOs complement (rather            disproportionately disrupts the education of students
than duplicate) the existing range of wellbeing provisions    with cognitive/learning impairments, students with
in the schools and link the school with agencies and          a child protection/OOHC history, and Aboriginal
communities. Other research has found resistance and          students.19 While the use of short suspensions
negative experiences amongst students to approaching          decreased by 2.5% between 2013 and 2015, there
school counsellors for support.17 It is essential to ensure   has been no significant change in long suspensions
young people reach out for help when they need it,            or in the number of students receiving short and/or
and the review of SSOs demonstrate they bridge a gap          long suspensions.20
between no support and crisis intervention.
                                                              One key driver for student disengagement is school
     Students saw their SSO neither as a teacher nor          disciplinary practices such as suspension.21 Young
     as a counsellor, but as something in between.            people often present with challenging behaviours,
     This increased willingness to seek support and           and while it is increasingly understood that they are
     allowed wellbeing programs to take a more                a symptom of emotional or behavioural disorders
     preventative approach.18                                 and experience, suspension is still commonly
Since the end of the pilot period, the Department of          used to manage such manifesting behaviours in a
Education has provided $51 million for wellbeing, the         school environment.
equivalent of 200 SSOs. However, the Department               Generally, suspension is understood to have two
no longer provides centralised support, training and          core purposes – to remove threats to the safety and
coordination of SSOs. As a decentralised group, this          wellbeing of the school community and to punish
leaves these positions subject to isolation, high stress      the offender. The end result is supposed to be
and turn-over, all of which compromise the effectiveness      better behavior or a reversal of a trend. Normally
and outcomes of the program, a serious threat                 a ’zero tolerance’ policy towards disruptive behavior
considering its proven success.                               warranting suspension is intended to have positive and

22                                                                                        A NSW for Young People: Beyond 2019
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